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Annie and Jorge's Garden

Sat, 02 May 2009 @ 22:17

Geeky Insanity

One day last week Ayn had a friend over. In the course of things she showed him the property, including the library. When they ate she feed him entirely with food either from the property or homemade. His comments included "This is the geekiest house I have ever been in." Then on Wednesday Annie and I were discussing a project, Ayn, who was sitting at the table, asked a few questions and proceeded to say "The two of you are insane."

It is certainly true that we do things differently. In some cases very differently. Take electricity, for example.

When we purchased the property it had the usual one electric meter. The local power company's pricing scheme was such that the greater the consumption, the greater the charge. If I recall correctly the bands were 0 - 200, 201 - 500, and then everything over 500. So the ideal would be to keep consumption below 200 KWH per month. That was not going to happen. No matter how much conservation or how many energy saving device we install.

An other approach was to install multiple electric meters. So we did. We have a total of four. In those days the power company did not require any paper work, just request the meter and pay the fee. Unfortunately now they require copies of building permits before they will install new meters.

Initially we did not set up the internal electric distribution in an ideal manner. One meter was for the guest house, another for the property in general and two for the main house. In the main house the distribution was between things that were going to be on the battery backup and the rest.

While this approach certainly did reduce the overall cost, it was not optimal. Over time we have made some extensive modifications to the system. The main conceptual change came when the power company introduced an hourly pricing scheme, with a rather complex formula (since changed). We of course worked the formula and found that we could save quite a bit of money by switching, and even more if we balanced electric consumption over the four meters.

Right now we have a setup where we can move entire breaker boxes from one meter to another by flipping a knife switch. This is the gross adjustment. Then we have the fine adjustment. Here we can easily move individual items between breaker boxes. Say it is close to the meter reading date and one meter is a few KWH below the others, we move a few things onto that meter. To make this possible, I installed many power points in the breaker box room. Then I disconnected the items in question from their breakers and put a head on the wires. To move I unplug from one power point and plug into another.

To do this effectively it implies reading the meters frequently and entering the information into a spreadsheet. Annie, being an accountant, does this. In a typical month she will ask me to either move an entire box to another meter, or make a fine adjustment tow or three times. Occasionally with a command of "Flip the switches Igor" which invokes a response of "yess mistress."

The bottom line is that our electric bill is far less than it "should" be. It is also far less than many people we know, including those who consume far less than we do. It could also be considered geeky, and insane :).

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Wed, 29 Apr 2009 @ 22:23

Construction Shack 2

As anyone who is following this can tell, it is going nowhere fast. This is due to a combination of legitimate reasons and lame excuses.

To fix this I am going to start writing. I will post something at least once a week. Starting this week. Before Sunday, something, no matter how trivial, will be up.

As far as the configuration of this site goes, hopefully by posting things I will find the incentive to deal with it. In the meantime I have added a link below to our PGP key for this blog. The email address is in the graphic, it directs to both of us. If you wish to send encrypted emails, just click for the key, but unencrypted is fine.


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Mon, 23 Mar 2009 @ 00:06

Construction Shack

As some of you may know, I use to rant over at Sunni & the Conspirators. My old posts are accessible here.

I thank Sunni for giving me the opportunity to express my views for the last few years. Also all those I have exchanged comments with. I learned a bit for each of them. However, things change, and circumstances called for me moving on.

Coincidentally, Annie wants to start a gardening blog. So this will be it. I will continue to rant and Annie will give people some useful information. Hopefully you will find the combination interesting enough to hang around.

I am using to power this blog. It is Free Software and highly configurable, but I have to learn how. For now, consider this post the construction shack. Hopefully I will have the site fully operational in short order.


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